With pre-poll voting underway from today, the ACT election is starting to hot up.
Anyone else just over it? I have been away for a couple of weeks and didn’t miss all the posturing, the promising, and I didn’t miss the forest of corflutes up every inch of the roadways across town.
But I do observe that some of these corflutes are for candidates that have hitherto not been seen anywhere in the whole of Christendom.
As a former player in this game of thrones, I can speak from some experience. As a former campaign manager, I can speak from further experience and I will now give some advice to those candidates suffering “candidate’s disease”.
Candidate’s disease is that condition where a candidate has convinced him/herself that they have won the big one. The Lotto numbers are in and we are now in clover. So really we need do nothing much except choose staff, wonder about the size of our new office, wonder about a taxpayer funded car and what allowances we be delivered. A ministry is not out of the question but which one will it be? CD is the most natural of tendencies in the game of politics. It is where dreaming overwhelms reality. It is about counting chickens and crossing bridges before … ? It is also a waste of energy, time and oxygen.
Reality check time! If a candidate is in ‘introduction’ mode about now, they have no chance of being elected. Elections are won when a candidate is in ‘reminder’ mode about now having been in ‘introduction’ mode about January to April, ‘reinforcement’ mode from May to July and ‘reminder’ mode from August to the election.
There are only two candidates in this election who are assured of retaining their seat: Andrew Barr and Jeremy Hanson. Everyone else has to earn their seats by convincing people that they are worthy.
My reasoning for the success of AB and JH (not me, it’s Jeremy) is that the candidates need a quota of about 16% or so to be elected (now we have 5 electorates) but the Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition come into the election with what I call the “Leader’s quota” or LQ. History will show you that when Kate Carnell won in 1998, she won handsomely. Jon Stanhope did likewise for the three elections he contested as the Chief Minister. Katy Gallagher did the same. They each had a personal following boosted by the LQ. I estimate the LQ for the Chief Minister to be around the 0.9 to 1.1 quotas.
So if you add the LQ to the personal vote of around 0.7 you get a final result of around 1.6 to 1.8 quotas, which is enough to bring a third MLA in.
The Leader of the Opposition has an LQ of about 0.5 to 0.8 so again, if you look at the total with a personal following of 0.7 personal plus LQ of 0.5, being 1.2, the Leader of the Opposition is comfortably elected and if the LQ is 0.8 the total is 1.5 which is usually enough to ensure the second and push for the third. Zed Seselja did bring a third into Brindabella because of the personal following plus a hefty LQ.
So I think that the Kurrajong electorate could see Andrew Barr bring a third Labor MLA into the Assembly but whether Jeremy Hanson can repeat it in Kurrajong depends on his personal vote which I suspect is not as high as Zed’s was. The barrier to Barr being able to do this are the fortunes of Rattenbury.
In Brindabella, my theory found currency when Zed moved into the electorate and took all the votes and reduced Brendan Smyth to a Gary Humphries-level low vote. Back in 2008, my personal vote was about 7500 and so was Brendan’s, sitting at about .75 of a quota. But we had both been MLAs for Brindabella for many years, with big reputations for delivery to the electorate. When Zed turned up, Brendan shrank to about 0.4 quota.
The key to the Liberals retaining three seats is whether they can between them get 2.5 quotas or more. Arguably, the emergence of Mark Parton is intended to raise the vote to Smyth type levels but that will not be enough to guarantee the other two seats. I don’t see the sitting MLAs or the other two non-sitting Liberals getting more than 0.5 quotas each. Indeed, my prediction is that Parton will get about 0.7, the sitting MLAs 0.5 each and the others 0.5 between them. This totals 2.2 quotas which is not enough to drag the third up.
A similar situation exists for Labor. The sitting MLAs don’t have a personal vote greater than about 0.5, and some non-sitting candidates have been out canvassing for months earlier than they have so it is possible that the ALP will return two seats but the work of the non-sitting candidates may wrest the third from the Libs.
In essence the loss of the third Liberal seat is down to the absence of an LQ and Smyth’s departure. The same can’t be said for the departure of Mary Porter in Ginninderra to the same extent. Jon Stanhope’s LQ dissipated at the last election, four years ago. Ginninderra has a good sitting MLA in Minister Yvette Berry and very hardworking non-sitting candidates led by Kim Fischer*, who like the Brindabella non-sitting candidates has been out talking to people for nearly twelve months. She is a natural successor to Mary Porter and will benefit from the great work of the other ALP candidates.
Murrumbidgee is an interesting one because it will test Jeremy Hanson’s personal vote but there is an LQ as there was when Zed contested Molonglo. With no sitting ALP member, the candidates are even although on experience Mark Kulasingham is shaping up very well. I expect Giulia Jones to come in with Hanson and there to be a contest for the fifth.
Yerrabi is poised to go two each, Labor and Libs, with the high profile Meegan Fitzharris and Alistair Coe fighting it out but I expect the fifth may just go to Labor by a whisker.
So keep an eye on Barr and Hanson to see if the LQ applies this time again. The Greens don’t have an LQ, but profile does help. The question for the Greens is whether Rattenbury’s recent bad publicity and links with the light rail push will see a drop in Greens’ support. I expect so.
We live in interesting times.
* Kim Fischer worked as an adviser to then-MLA John Hargreaves from 2006-2010. She is also a regular contributor to the RiotACT.